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Changing Ireland: My Big Idea - Meet Adam Harris

20 April 2020


Meet Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm

Permanent tsb is proud to celebrate courage and champion entrepreneurship as a supporter of ‘Changing Ireland: My Big Idea’, a brand new six-part docuseries produced for RTÉ One, in association with our community partner Social Entrepreneurs (SEI). The documentary follows some of the most successful social entrepreneurs from the SEI Alumni Network, showcasing the positive impact that their work is having across the country and detailing their journey from start-up to scale-up.

Today, we want to introduce you to Adam Harris, Founder and CEO of AsIAm and one of the entrepreneurs featured in the series.

When Adam was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome from an early age, the condition was far less understood or even known as it is today. Having spent his initial school years within the special education stream, he moved to a mainstream school in second class and was supported by an SNA.

By secondary school age, Adam began to socialise independently and became frustrated at the lack of any real understanding of Autism and the many examples of social exclusion which the community are subjected to. This inspired him, and the idea for AsIAm was born.

With the mission of giving autistic people a voice and starting a national conversation, Adam founded AsIAm whilst studying for his Leaving Cert in 2013. Seven years on, AsIAm is Ireland's national Autism charity and advocacy organisation, working to deliver real inclusion and understanding for all.

People living with Autism often experience discrimination and exclusion in school, in the jobs market and in social circles. This is because few members of the public are equipped with the knowledge that they need to build an Autism-friendly society. AsIAm is committed to changing this, by developing a strong, well informed and vibrant Autism community and working with society more broadly to increase the understanding of Autism.

AsIAm believes that by engaging society in gaining a greater insight into Autism, and by empowering autistic people and their families to advocate for both themselves and the broader autism community, that they can build a truly inclusive, accessible Ireland.

AsIAm aims to deliver on its Mission through a focus on four key areas:

Educate – Increasing and improving accessibility of information, to equip people with Autism and their families to understand the condition better..

Empower – Providing those in the Autism community with the tools they need to reach their full potential. AsIAm aim to be a user-led initiative, developing projects and campaigns based on the issues brought forward by their users. By providing a platform they can help those affected by Autism to speak up.

Advocate – Acting as a hub for the Autism community in Ireland, AsIAm draw on common areas of concern raised by their users and to develop public awareness and policy campaigns around issues experience by the Autism community.

Community – Providing a safe, pleasant space for the autism community to share experiences, concerns and ideas with others with similar experiences, breaking down the geographical and social isolation barriers which have for so long plagued many people with Autism and their families.

AsIAm continues to go from strength to strength and is a social enterprise that really is #ChangingIreland.

To complement the series, SEI launched its own podcast – The Social Entrepreneur Podcast – which presents in-depth interviews with the social entrepreneurs featured in the series. Recently, CEO of SEI, Darren Ryan, sat down with Adam to learn more about the journey of AsIAm and how his work is having a positive impact across the country.

The podcast is available to listen to here.

‘Changing Ireland: My Big Idea’ is now showing on Monday evenings, from 8.30-9.00pm on RTÉ One.

To learn more about the Bank’s partnership with SEI and our continued commitment to having a positive and meaningful impact on communities across Ireland, please visit our Responsible Business Website.


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